Let us celebrate with some gyrations

By Mir
December 20, 2007

We’ve had a very exciting morning, here, because we’ve been to our first awards ceremony. And it was something.

The school the kids attend now have a student of the month type thing where one boy and one girl from each class are honored each month. They call it something else, of course (something long and unnecessarily complicated, along the lines of the Very Special Yay You Didn’t Get Suspended Or Hit Anybody What With Your Super Excellent Powers Of Following The Rules This Month Unlike Half The Student Body Who Couldn’t Be Bothered So We Shall Honor You For Just Being A Good Kid award), but it’s basically student of the month.

Monkey won this month. This marks a milestone in my kids’ lives, as I think this is the first time he has managed to garner such an achievement before his sister. She handled this with grace and good cheer, only just tripping him after they got off the bus the day he found out, and thereafter being very supportive because I threatened to rip her lips off if she didn’t shape up. (Our family motto: I’m happy for you, because Mama said so.)

Actually, I do think Chickadee settled into being quite happy for him once we had the “You know, it’s normal to be a little jealous, and that doesn’t mean you’re a bad person, nor does it mean you can’t be proud of him, too” conversation. She even got special permission to come attend the ceremony, even though it means she had to give up recess so she can go make up her work later.

Anyway. We filed into the gym for the pre-K through second grade ceremony. There were chairs for family set up, and then a wiiiiiiiide expanse between those chairs and where the honorees would sit, which I found odd. But then it became clear that ALL of the pre-K through second grade classes were coming in to watch their classmates be honored, and they took up all of that floor space (and then some), so then it made sense.

(Also? The entire kindergarten was apparently having Polar Express day. Which meant that there were tons of adorable children in their pajamas, and several less-than-adorable teachers in THEIR pajamas, and one woman wearing polka-dotted fleece lounge pants that I coveted.) (That has nothing to do with anything, but I thought I’d… oh, LOOK! Something SHINY!)

We sat and sat and sat while class after class filed in, and although we’d been told the ceremony would take just half an hour, I began to wonder if they’d even start before the half hour mark. Eventually everyone was assembled, though, and the principal started giving out the certificates.

Monkey was in the last group, as they started with pre-K and worked up to second grade. I don’t know if he’s become self-conscious of the enormous gap in his smile or what, but lately he has been doing this closed-lip smile that makes it look as though he’s being very brave, what with having swallowed a bug but still trying to look as though he’s happy. It just looks… PAINED. And I KNOW he was happy and excited, but we have a bunch of pictures of him looking out over his certificate with that “There’s a cockroach in my mouth, but DON’T WORRY, I’M OKAY” look on his face.

The award itself came with half-a-dozen certificates for free food at local eateries, so I told Chickadee she has to hurry up and win so that we can start feeding them both for free.

Now, here’s the interesting part. Apparently this school has a step dancing group. I fully admit to being both old and unhip, but supposedly the important part of STEP dancing is the, y’know, STEPPING. The footwork is the thing, yes? Arm movements and such aren’t supposed to matter.

Well, our school’s step dancing team provided “entertainment” for the award ceremony. This means they did a routine at the beginning and another at the end. And while there was, indeed, stepping, there was also a lot of clapping, and gyrating, and head-snapping, and my god, these girls were wearing white t-shirts and jeans, but all they needed was a few sequins and some stripper poles.

I feel so uncool, saying that. (YOU KIDS TODAY, WITH YOUR SUGGESTIVE HIP HOP!) But it was, um, very grown-up. Too much for my taste, frankly, but my discomfort is also fueled by the fact that—despite being an elementary school—there were several girls in the group who looked like teenagers.

(It’s a sobering thing when a fifth grader is more stacked that you are.)

So perhaps if these little step dances and the accompanying blaring music had been performed by a bunch of LITTLE kids it would’ve bothered me less, but as it was there were quite a few young ladies clearly SHAKING THEIR THANGS and you know, they should not HAVE thangs. There should be NO THANGS in elementary school. This is why I buy organic milk, so that my daughter shall not be THANGED before her time. Amen.

The best part was when Chickadee leaned over to me and whispered, “Wow, that girl in the middle is really… tall.” She dug around for “tall” before settling on it, but raised her eyebrows in such a way that I understood it to mean something more. I admit I enjoyed her horror a little too much. (That could be my new parenting strategy, come to think of it. “You will do as I say or you will GROW BOOBS, young lady!”)

Anyway, we are very proud of Monkey, but given what I saw today, I am feeling a little bit terrified of middle school. And high school! Maybe they do lap dances at the awards ceremonies, there.


  1. meghann

    Our society cracks me up. Let’s push our kids to grow up as fast as possible! Yes! Let’s bombard them with sexuality on tv and in movies, and then teach them suggestive dances!

    And the Pièce de résistance: We’ll act confused as to why puberty is happening younger and younger.


  2. Deb

    LOL, can you imagine. I too have a second grade son and not sure how I am going to handle middle school. I am amazed with the way his female classmates dress, we don’t need to see their underwear and everything else all day. I am always thankful I have a little boy ;-)

  3. Aimee

    Yay, Monkey! And yay, Chickadee, for not having a THANG before her time! And yay, Mir, for the organic milk!

  4. Leandra

    Somehow I never seem to have been THANGED, dang it. BUT, I don’t want my daughter THANGED prematurely either, so thanks for the heads up about Publix brand milk being hormone free!

    I’ve heard similar complaints about other step shows in the area, though most were high school aged. Somebody just needs to put a stop to it is all I’ve got to say.

    Congrats, Monkey!!

  5. The Mom Bomb

    We have Polar Express day tomorrow. Guess that means I have to launder my daughter’s pajamas, which are now encrusted in dried yogurt and strawberry jam. And if you’ve recently attended a high school sporting event, you know the dancing only gets worse. I cringe whenever the pep squad does their pelvic thrusts.

  6. Megan

    Heck there are probably fourth graders who are more stacked than I. Just wait though, oh just wait because if you have just the right genetic mix-up going on in your kids you too will have a child who is more stacked than you and I’ll tell ya, there’s nothing like waking up one day, looking at your daughter and going “hey! What are those… those… oh god.”

  7. The Other Leanne


    Congratulations, Monkey!

  8. dad

    I only recently have condidered myself “recovered” from the PTSD of your maturing. Thanks and nice going. What goes around, comes around.
    Congrats to Monkey for his accomplishment and to Chickadee for dealing with it.

  9. E

    First: congrats to Monkey!

    Second: it’s Polar express/pajama day here for the lower grades as well, and upon finding out that my nephew had the same thing on the same exact day, i thought it might be a statewide thing. But now that I know they’re doing it in Georgia too, I’m beginning to wonder if it isn’t a nationwide thing. Perhaps some sort of rule stemming from the No Child Left Behind act? You know, no child left behind, and no child without pajamas and Polar Express??

    Third: DUDE, the girls in elementary school here look more like women than I do! And middle school, OMG middle school. I fear it for both my daughter AND my son. Sheesh.

  10. Emily

    Hahaha! I KNOW! I thought they were too grown up when they were shaking their THANGS in high school and I was in high school with them.

  11. kaleigh

    Yeah, our school doesn’t have stepping anymore, but we do have hip-hop dance, and my very white, very male son decided he wanted to do that this year. He was a double minority in the group, being the only representative of his sex and his ethnicity. And he was awesome in the program last week! But in the “freestyle” portion of the routine, there was a wide variety of mad skillz, including flips, butt-spins (that was my boy’s addition), and some thang-shaking. Guess what got the most applause? The littlest thang-shaker.

    Too bad the steppers at your school aren’t really stepping. In my part of the Dirty South, steppers are boys. I’m a bit baffled that girls would be doing hip-hop dancing and calling it stepping, honestly.

  12. June

    My husband and I were at a “street-fair” type thing this summer and a group of girls from some dance school were doing routines. While the group was hip hop dancing, the teacher would shout encouragement to the girls and one of the things he said was “shake your money-makers!” WTH? These girls were no more than 6 or 7 years old!

  13. D

    Congrats to Monkey – way to go!

    Your dance story reminds me of the time we went to a HS football game. Very Catholic school – before the game there’s a prayer, blessing by the priests afterwards, and audience chanting a psalm – game starts – then the cheerleaders come on for their half-time entertainment … my jaw fell with a CLUNK as these girls came out and danced to … Material Girl [Madonna] and something by Britney Spears. I thought rather odd choices … on so many levels!

  14. ScottsdaleGirl

    Did you see HOUSE Tuesday night? GAH!

  15. Tootsie

    When I was on the drill team in middle school, the movements were all very robotic. The times they have a changed. And I was all kinds of embarrassed about being THANGED in elementary school. I guess that’s no longer the case these days. I love Chickadee’s comment about the “tall” girl. She has your humor. Great post!

  16. Niki

    OK, we are SO adopting both your family motto and your parenting strategy! My youngest is in that frequently awarded group, as is my new-to-us middle child, and oldest daughter has adopted a “so what?” attitude toward it all. I like your motto, and think it would work for us.

    My youngest is also the smallest (and by that token least developed) seventh grader at her school, and she seems to live in terror of getting boobs. I may have to start using your warning!

  17. Shalee

    Congrats to Monkey. Nee ner nee ner nee nerrr to all the other kids.

    Yes, there is way to much THANGS everywhere. We’re having an awful hard time finding a place for The Boy (2nd grader) to avert his eyes when THANGS appear prevelantly. Sigh. I want them all to stay young and innocent… forever.

    Wait a second… I don’t buy organic and my poor 11 year old is as flat as a pancake! Oh wait, I forgot that the genetic factor plays a big part too. Poor girl… hope she likes being really… short.

  18. mama speak

    ummm, maybe this is a Southern thing (thang?) I was under the impression that step dancing was aka Irish Dance (Lord of the Night or some other crap like that)

    I danced for years (as a girl/teen) and was on cheer, we were mortified when one of the dance squads did a routine to “Brass Monkey” in HS. Yes, it was a popular song at the time, but even I, as a teenager saw it was wrong on just so many levels.

    Ummm, there’s always at least one girl in 5th grade who had to wear a bra & it USED to be that she got made fun of and the boys all tried to snap her bra strap. GAH. Now it’s cool, huh? My girls are grounded to their rooms until age 25.

  19. elizabeth

    yeah Monkey!
    and Chickadee is great, you have trained them both well.
    I have to agree with meghann, we push so much on them and then wonder why they get into so much so “early.”

  20. StephLove

    Congrat.s, to Monkey! I hope this means he’s having a good year.

    I know what kind of dancing you mean. I see it every year in our town’s 4th of July parade. Little, little girls doing the most horrifying moves.

    There was an article in the Washington Post around Halloween about the difficulty parents of pre-pubescent girls were having finding age-appropriate costumes. They mentioned Playboy bunny and French maid costumes in size 8. My daughter is not yet two (and wearing her brother’s hand-me-down blue plaid flannel shirt and gray corduroys today) but it makes me shudder. Eight will be here before I know it.

  21. carrien

    No, it looks even scarier when it’s little girls who don’t have a thang shaking it. I’ve sat through too many dance recitals where that happens. Why do people think it’s cute to sluttify 4 year olds. (That is too a word.)

    It makes me sad. Kids can dance hip hop without shaking their thang, and step. Why adults, or they, would want thang shaking to happen…(sigh)

    I’ll stop now, it’s making me depressed.

  22. kidzmama

    Yay for Monkey! That’s a huge accomplishment. I’m sure the entire family is proud. At least you got to sit at this assembly! No tripping necessary.

    Our Funny just won an award at school too. No ceremony, but his picture is hanging in the front hall of the school. He’s a proud boy (and so are we).

  23. Headless Mom

    So many *wrong* thing to comment on, so little time…

    I guess it will just be “Go Monkey!”

  24. Crisanne

    I taught in a middle school before kids and I was amazed by what girls would wear. There was one day a girl was wearing tight little white capri pants and a (visible) pink thong underneath. I only noticed because of the large crowd of boys following behind her every step drooling all over themselves.

    Congrats to Monkey!

  25. ImpostorMom

    I remember that pained, close-mouthed smile from my senior year of high school. That was the year I had braces.

    Girls do seem to grow up faster these days, but then again I got my first bra in 2nd grade. Granted it was a training bra but still.

  26. StephLove

    BTW, I know what smile you mean. That’s the smile in my son’s first-grade picture.

  27. jennielynn

    You know what happens in middle school? Dances. And “making a move” on the boy you have a crush on. (Yes, thank you, the heart attack was lovely. Very restful.) A move consists of asking him to slow dance during the aforementioned event. The little tramp. Hand to God, the hootchie factor comes from her father. Then the heartache when he actually likes Devon and not her.

    High School is when you start inspecting her underwear drawer for thongs. Not flip flops. Just lock her in a closet after 5th grade.

  28. Amy

    Ugh… They do this every MONTH? I used to teach at a middle school that did something like this monthly (Monthly Recognition Awards and Perfect Homework and Perfect Attendance). We teachers hated it. It got to the point where we would give awards to just about everyone each month as a mockery of the whole thing. Eventually we got a new principal (thank god) who let this absurdity fade away.

  29. Tiffany

    My oldest won terrific kid award in school in first grade. the teachers all the yrs just pulled the name out of the hat for a boy and girl winner.
    Congrats to monkey! are ya gonna put the bumper sticker on your car?! i *forgot* to put the sticker on my van for my oldest.

  30. Jenni

    My mother in law swears that we get “THANGS” early here in the south.

  31. julie

    Lil Daughter’s pediatrician told me a few years ago that girls are entering puberty earlier (8-10) than we did. Scary thought cuz their brains/maturity don’t match their bodies. Along those lines, we have a huge St. Patrick’s Day parade in Savannah and the talk the last few years has been about the hoochiness of the high school marching bands’
    dancerettes/majorettes. I’m pretty cool but I’ve been quite taken aback the last few years.
    Hang on to your babies’ babyhood. It goes away faster than you could ever imagine!

  32. Wendy

    Well, I guess that counts you out for the Mardi Gras parades. The high school bands would have your eyes fly out of your head.

  33. Another Dawn

    Congratulations to Monkey! And to Chickadee for taming the green-eyed monster.

    Be afraid of junior high. Be very afraid. It is even scarier than the Ghost of Christms Yet-to-Come.

  34. carolyn

    I have a boy in middle school and a girl in high school and believe me, some of the things they (and I) see would curl your hair.

  35. LuAnn

    Congrats to Monkey. U ROCK, little dude!

    BTW, I went to elementary school with a girl who definitely had THANGS by the 4th or 5th grade, and did she suffer for it! The girls hated her and the boys wouldn’t leave her alone.

  36. prophet

    word-a-day sent a great new word recently and I finally have a place to use it. yay!!! Here goes: I love your excursive writings. Really! It’s fun, and hilarious – and did I mention fun? – and random, witty, provocative and – LOOK! something shiny. . . . .

    lovely, as ever.

    Merry Christmas to you, and all!

  37. tori

    My two daughters had the same type of smile around that age. My best friend used to call it the constipation smile.

    Congratulations to Monkey! And to Chickadee for being proud of him. I am also cracking up at her choosing the word tall to describe the girl.

  38. wendy

    When my oldest daughter was in elementary school, she was one of those stacked girls. My mom kept telling me she was too young…did she think I could reverse it? or somehow encouraged it? Since my oldest is a shy and anxious child, I was THRILLED that other girls in her grade were developing early too so that she didn’t get any negative attention for it. However, I did NOT allow her to shake it or dress inappropriately for her age.

    early puberty = early teenager!!It’s been horrible!!(shudder)

  39. Ladybug Crossing

    Congrats to Monkey!!

    When LLB was in 3rd grade – the highest grade in teh school… there was this girl who was really… umm… TALL… I mean totally stacked – bigger than um.. me (although that’s not hard). But still. I mean.. 3rd grade.

    Middle school happens, honey. It’s really not that bad. The kids are ready. They go in as immature 6th graders – short and sweet and umm… “short”. Then they come out at the end of 8th grade as immature, tall, deep voiced, and umm… “tall”.

    High school… mine is too busy to do anything but study and band and a sport. Keep them busy. If they are busy, they can’t get into trouble – oh and the old line “DON’T SHAME YOUR MOTHER” works really well, too.

    Don’t worry about moving on to the higher grades. It is all fine. We have weathered it just fine. I know you will, too.


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